From artist Michael Reagan:
A couple of years ago I received a call from a man from Mike Dougherty. He said that he and his wife has just seen a story on what I was doing and believed it was something very special. They wanted to donate something to the cause. He quickly pointed out that he had not lost anyone in the war but he loved the men and women fighting for his family. He then told me that six months earlier his wife Jill and he had lost their 8 year old son James (Jim) to God. He told me that Jim had a piggy-bank with the money he had earned and they had been trying to find a good cause to give it to. When they saw the story about us they decided we were the one. It was an incredible conversation.
I told him how much I appreciated him and Jill’s thoughts and would be proud to accept their donation. I told him this project was all about love and I knew their donation was coming from the same place. I asked him to include a photo of their son with the gift so I could get to know their son. I expected a check to come in the mail. A couple of weeks later I received a Priority Mail package that had change shaking around inside of it. I knew what this was, it was the actual money from Jim’s piggy-bank. Sure enough, I opened the box and there were the coins and bills Jim no doubt touched as he earned them. Something very special had been sent to me. I took a glass cup out of the cupboard and put the money and the coins in the glass and put that glass, I am looking at it right now, next to my drawing table, next to the copy of Ben Colgan’s portrait. As I said to my wife, this is too important to ever spend, no matter what.
About a week later I was drawing another Fallen Hero portrait and thinking about Jim’s parent’s gift. The phone rang next to my table and it was Mike Dougherty. The reason he called was he and his wife had just received the surprise portrait I had done of their son Jim from the photo they had sent me. Now who didn’t see that coming. : ) He wanted to tell me that the portrait was so real and that they had been having such a hard time since his death that when they saw the portrait they knew some part of their son was home again. He called to say thank you, once again another incredible conversation.
I told him that his donation would never be spent and that it sits next to my drawing table. Then I told him his donation had been on my mind just as he called and asked him if I could tell him about that? He said yes and I asked him what he would think if I told him that I believed his son Jim, even though he died six months before his parents found out about me, had put all of this into motion. I said the portrait was meant to happen to help him and Jill through this horrible time and that Jim did it all. Jim knew if I received the donation and the photo what I would do with that. I was just the artist he chose. Then I waited. After a pause and a few nervous moments Mike said that his wife was sitting right there and the real reason they called was because when they received the portrait they knew it had been put into motion by their son and they wanted to talk about that, they just didn’t know how. Needless to say, something special happened.
I know some of these stories will be hard to believe or understand but they really happen. I sometimes sit and wonder how I could ever tell someone about them. I no longer worry about that. Someday the stories will be told so everyone can hear them.